Monday, 18 December 2017

Marian, Mary, Tim - rest in peace

I'm sorry to report the deaths of three people, two of them friends of mine, during the course of the past few days. First, Marian Babson, whose real name was Ruth Stenstreem, and who was 88. American by birth, she'd lived in England for many years, and served as Secretary of the CWA for many years; she was a prolific writer of traditional detective novels from 1971 onwards. In addition, she was a worthy winner of the CWA Dagger in the Library, and a member of the Detection Club. On a number of occasions, she sent me copies of nice reviews of my books that she'd spotted in American magazines and newspapers, a kindness I much appreciated. She was a reserved, private person, and in recent years, she'd been in very poor health, but it's still sad that she's no longer with us.

Mary Kelly was someone I never met, because her relatively brief writing career ended long before mine began. She was, however, a writer of high calibre, and her 1961 novel, The Spoilt Kill, won the CWA Gold Dagger award. She too joined the Detection Club, and became its Secretary. There's a lovely anecdote about her in Peter Lovesey's recollections at the end of Motives for Murder, when she was hiding from an editor who wanted to know where her latest book was. She never produced it; writer's block seems to have been the culprit. She'd not been involved with either the Club or the CWA for many years, but her work deserves to be remembered. She was 90.
Not a crime writer, but a stalwart of our community and a delightful and witty man, was Tim Cleeves, who died on Saturday. I first got to know him and his wife Ann at the end of the 80s, and I still vividly remember staying at their house in Whitley Bay with my family when Ann, Bob Barnard, Val McDermid, Chaz Brenchley, Reg Hill, and I were working on the first CWA northern chapter anthology. Tim and Helena took the children off to Newcastle while the writers talked crime. We've had plenty of times together since, but what I find particularly poignant is that Tim and I had a couple of convivial conversations only a few weeks ago at the Daggers dinner, when he and the girls were so proud to see Ann receive the CWA Diamond Dagger. The photo shows Tim alongside Brenda Blethyn, watching the presentation on a very happy night. His sudden death is a real tragedy, and the thoughts of crime writers and readers will be with Ann, Sarah, and Ruth at this sad time.


Ted said...

I enjoyed many of Marion Babson's early books, especially 'The Twelve Deaths of Christmas'. But most of her later books were all cat themed and many of her early one were re-titled to make you think they were about cats when they were not. Maybe it was some ploy of her publishers here in the US, but I found it confusing.

Christine said...

This is very sad, Martin. Marian did the same with me and was kind in other ways when I was starting out. I am very sorry to hear about Tim - a shocking thing.